The Bookworm Beat (9/16/14) — Clearing the Spindle Part 1, and Open Thread

Woman writingI’m working away at my inbox backlog, and have lined up the first batch of interesting things I’d love to share with you.

ISIS’s dangerous appeal to disaffected Westerners, Muslim and non-Muslim alike

Both Daniel Greenfield and Caroline Glick warn that there’s something very unusual and extremely dangerous about ISIS: It appeals to the formerly nice, and currently disaffected, Muslim living next door — or to the equally disaffected non-Muslm who’s looking for a combination of meaning and power in his (or her) life.

And here’s something interesting for you to chew on: You’re not the only one noticing that many of the non-Muslim’s taking up the standard of radical Islam are red-haired. When I was growing up, red hair was just another hair color. In today’s world, redheads are the new n*****. For reasons that are unclear to me, they are picked on something awful, and it’s entirely possible that radical Islam provides them with the ultimate revenge.

Obamacare policies worse than pre-Obamacare policies

In addition to forcing people to buy insurance, Obamacare also insists that, even if they want a Ford, they must buy a Rolls Royce. Except that it turns out that what people are really being forced to buy are the Rolls Royce equivalents of Potemkin Villages. You see, it turns out that, as any free market supporter could have told Obama, policies obtained on the open market, rather than on the government-controlled market, had a tendency to be cheaper, more readily available, and with greater options that could be better tailored to an individual’s needs.

(The car reference in the above paragraph comes from a Soviet-era joke:

Man One: Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces.
Man Two: But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce.
Man One: Come the revolution, you’ll have to.)

Should private employers be forced to accommodate religious beliefs?

The government is getting involved in the case of a Seventh-day Adventist who claims he was fired from Dunkin’ Donuts for refusing to take a Friday night (i.e., Sabbath) shift. While I believe that the First Amendment means that the government cannot unreasonably impose itself on people’s religious practices, I do not believe that the government should be forcing private businesses to accommodate those practices. For one thing, once you start doing that, you’ve opened the tent to that camel’s nose, and you suddenly have the government siding with one private party (a Seventh-day Adventist, a Muslim, an Orthodox Jew) in a religious dispute with another private party which is, in and of itself, a wrongful interference in religion. For another thing, no one ever said that committing oneself seriously to religion wasn’t going to entail some sacrifice — but it should be your sacrifice, not your employer’s.

Michigan government makes Arabs feel at home

Here’s an excerpt from a post you might find interesting about the inroads Muslim immigrants have made in Michigan:

Muslim men are allowed to have as many as 4 wives. Many Muslims have immigrated into the U.S. And brought their 2-3-or 4 wives with them, but the U.S. does not allow multi marriages, so the man lists one wife as his, and signs the other 2 or 3 up as extended family on welfare and other free Government programs!

[snip]

So now in Michigan when you call the Public Assistance office you are told to “Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Spanish, or Press 3 for Arabic”! CHECK IT OUT YOURSELF – Here is the number 1-888-678-8914.

Looking for a good income? Sign up for welfare.

Longtime readers are all familiar with a story I heard when I lived in England in 1981. A friend of mine spent the summer before university doing the worst kind of scut work at the local zoo, everything from driving the little train filled with screaming children to cleaning out the elephant and lion enclosures. His sister, meanwhile, spent the summer on the dole, watching telly and swanning about with her friends. At summer’s end, she had more money that he did.

Add thirty years, and my story about England in 1981 is the story of America in 2014: welfare is the best entry-level job there is. And let me just add, looking at Britain today, we know how well going down that road turned out.

MSNBC once again tries to re-write history

Eugenics in the 20th century was a purely Leftist phenomenon, from Sanger, to H.G. Wells, to (yes) Hitler. MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, while rightly decrying it, seems a little unclear on its Leftist roots. This is not a big story, because no one today would be rocked by a headline screaming “MSNBC host is stupid and uninformed.” I include it here only as a reminder that we have to be vigilant at all times against the Left’s habit of perverting America’s past in order to control her future.

A quiz for you about life in the Roaring 20s

During the Roaring 20s, the papers seemed to carry stories daily about gangland style killings. Mobsters and related bootleggers killed each other with picturesque relish, a killing spree that seemed to culminate with the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. So here’s a quiz for you: During the 1920s, when guns were legal, was Chicago more or less violent than it is today, when guns are pretty much outlawed? Think you know? Check your answer here.

Fun and informative items at the Watcher’s Council website

There are a couple of posts I recommend to your attention at the Watcher’s Council. First, you can read an excellent forum about the response that Council members and their august friends (including Seraphic Secret) had to President Obama’s ISIS speech. Second, you can see the names of the weasels that Council members have nominated as the weasel of the week.

Yes, the UN is unfair to Israel

You and I already know the answer to the rhetorical question Anne Bayefsky asks, which is whether the UN is unfair to Israel. However, because Anne is temperate and informative, this is a good video to spread to your social media friends who may not know the correct answer.

Je suis ennui — but you get an Open Thread

Louis XIIIAccording to Alexandre Dumas’s delightful and timeless The Three Musketeers, Louix XIII of France, burdened by the duties of kingship, would frequently draw aside favored courtiers and complain to them “Je suis ennui [I am bored].”

I am almost never bored . . . unless I’m overwhelmed.  In that case, my brain shuts down and my defensive emotion is boredom.  Thus, back in high school, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the mountains of homework I somehow failed to do; I was, instead, bored with my work.  I had exactly the same emotional response as a young (and, thinking about it, old) lawyer when I was staring down a big brief.  Right up until the moment sheer panic hit, bringing with it a useful burst of adrenalin, my overriding emotion was a sense of ennui that left me completely paralyzed.

That’s how I feel today.  I’ve managed to gather over 200 emails in each of my inboxes, my homemaker tasks keep piling up, and I have so many things to say that I’m paralyzed.  So what’s my overriding emotion?  Je suis ennui.

So, here’s my plan:  In a few hours I’ll have finished caring for my mother, my children, my exchange student, and my housework.  I’ll sit down and bring my inboxes under control, fold the last of the laundry, and cook dinner.  I’ll then think about two socio-political points I want to make and start drafting them.  At 9:00 p.m., I’ll tune into the season premier of Dancing With The Stars, a show I love because I love dancing; I love watching beautiful professionals dance; and because I get genuine pleasure out of watching the “stars” (can B-listers be stars?) working hard and improving over the course of several weeks.

Having done all this, I assume that I’ll be mentally refreshed and that, having escaped the feeling of being overwhelmed, I’ll also stop being bored by Obama’s failings and depredations, by ISIS’s killing spree, by the world’s rising antisemitism, by the Progressives’ constant attacks on the stabilizing force of Judeo-Christian values, and myriad other distressing stories in the news and, instead, find all of them to be inspirations for writing.

Until then, don’t get stuck being ennui with me.  Instead, here’s an open thread — please express yourself.

Also, since I’m talking history, a friend reminded me that we might be better off if Obama was conversant with a little more history; or, at least, the non-Marxist variation on history:

Obama does not do history

And while we’re on the subject of that golf game, do you recall (yes, I’m sure you do), the ridicule heaped upon President Bush when, after hearing about the attack on the Twin Towers, he spent another five minutes finishing a book he was reading to children, before getting down to the business of governing? It’s like Obama is Bush’s evil Doppelganger, but the media refuses to notice.

What passes for theater and theater reviews amongst New York’s self-styled finest

Ruby-Rae-Spiegel-200x282America’s upper classes are now and have always been insecure. Lacking a hereditary nobility, social strivers have had to work hard to distinguish themselves from the masses when the only distinguishing feature, really, is cash. In the 19th Century, worried rich people formed “the Four Hundred” to distinguish the social “in-crowd” from the hoi polloi. America’s nervous upper class, distinguished now, as it was then, by money, not heredity, is still trying desperately to distinguish itself from those gun and God lovin’ American masses upon whom Obama heaped such scorn.

Our social “betters” go to Ivy League schools where earnest (and wealthy) Marxist professors assure them that only they and designated minorities (admired only at arm’s length, of course) are worthy, while the remainder of America’s citizens are crude, thrusting, greedy, and uncultured.  Once having graduated from their expensive, precious academic incubators, they buy lavish apartments in select neighborhoods in big cities, or sprawling homes on large estates in lush suburbs.  Their children’s elementary and high schools cost just as much annually as a year at a decent college.  The wives, if they choose not to have a job, do charitable work for two different types of causes: (a) social issue causes (climate change and environmentalism, mostly) or (b) for poor people overseas.  Apparently American poor are undeserving of their largess.

Oh, and one other thing:  They all read the New York Times, subscribing proudly to its complicated and often clashing mixture of social Progressivism, ardent (yet always geographically distant) support for people of color, and support for extreme wealth.

Had America’s modern-day Four Hundred been reading the Times last Friday, they would have seen a review that is a perfect distillation of everything that America’s self-identified elite stands for, and I don’t say that as a compliment.  The play, Dry Land, takes place in a Florida high school locker room after swim practice, as two young teens cement an unexpected friendship when the one asks the other to beat the living fetus out of her.  And no, “fetus” is not my coy substitution for the “F” word.  It is, instead, the baby that one carries within her.  This is a play about a violent DIY abortion in a state that requires parental consent before an abortion can be performed on a minor.  The playwright is a 21 year-old Yale senior.

Let me say this again:  A graduate of one of America’s finest universities has a play off-Broadway, the plot of which involves one girl physically abusing another, pregnant girl, resulting in a deep friendship.  Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

Certainly the New York Times saw nothing wrong about the play.  Ben Brantley, the Times’ chief theater critic, wrote an excited, loving, almost completely incoherent review, lauding it as one of the best plays in New York.  It did not surprise me to learn that Brantley is gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that . . . although I can’t help believing that his Progessive gayness (as opposed to, for example, a conservative gayness) informs his passion for a disturbing play focused upon an act that, in any other context than a Broadway stage, would justify arrest for assault with intent to cause bodily harm.

Or maybe it’s not incoherent at all.  Maybe it’s just my rigid, conservative, hate-filled, gun-lovin’ mind that had me scratching my head when faced with this prose:

The two girls don’t know the protocol for sitting on someone’s stomach for medical reasons. So they improvise, awkwardly and goofily, with one planting her rump on the midsection of the other, which leads to both of them convulsing into giggles. The girl being sat upon laughs so hard that she wets herself.

They’re having a good if uncomfortable time. Most likely, so are you. Until the girls remember that what they’re trying to achieve is a do-it-yourself abortion. Even then, the giggles linger, though with a clammy, premonitory chill.

[snip]

For, yes, “Dry Land,” a Colt Coeur production directed with rippling fluidness by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, is about abortion. No, that’s not correct. It’s about the complexities of friendship and the fears of the future that grip kids arriving at the threshold of adulthood. It is not — repeat not — an Abortion Play in capital letters, in the solemn, soapy manner of many a made-for-TV movie.

“Punch me.” Those are the first words you hear in “Dry Land.” The speaker is Amy (Sarah Mezzanotte), who wears a flashy bathing suit and a matching skintight air of worldly insolence.

She’s talking to Ester (Tina Ivlev), a ganglier, more callow type, who does her best to oblige by hitting Amy in the stomach. But it is not an easy assignment. It feels like kind of a joke, doesn’t it, or the manifestation of a hostility that Ester, a recent and still unsettled transfer student, surely doesn’t want to show.

The review goes on in this vein.  The only real takeaway I had is that Brantley thinks it’s tremendously exciting that a 21-year-old Yalie wrote about teenagers punching at and peeing upon each other.  (FYI, the New York Post reviewer also liked the play, in part because of its pro-abortion message.  The review is less shrill, more intelligible, and still leaves me feeling that this play may be clever, but it’s also grotesque.)

I may be hypersensitive to Brantley’s arch and meaningless language because I recently completed another back-to-school night at my kids’ high school. After four years of these things, I’ve discovered that it’s always the English class that gets my hackles up.  (The rest of the of the school is delightful.) These English teachers, many of whom like to boast to their students about their past drug and alcohol use, freely acknowledge that they don’t bother to teach English grammar.  Maybe that’s a principled stand (“the kids should have learned grammar before they came to my class”) or maybe it has to do with the fact that their own own semi-literate screeds too often come complete with run-on sentences that encompass entire paragraphs; vicious cat-fights between subject and verb that go beyond mere disagreement; infinitives so split they practically sound like German verbs; and enough ambiguities to delight any litigator’s heart.

As you might expect, these teachers also don’t teach anything about the beauty of the English language. Instead, as I’ve written before, they go for cheap pop psychology and, always, Catcher in the Rye tops the list. I don’t remember whether CITR is well-written or not. I simply remember from my own high school days finding the author’s and the teacher’s obsession with sex almost as unpleasant as Holden Caufield himself. CITR is taught so that English teachers can have deep psychological discussions about their sexual feelings. That may be a worthy goal, but it doesn’t teach American students to read, write, or think.

Things used to be different.  Once upon a time, English speakers had a shared culture based on the eternal wisdom of the Bible and Shakespeare. When writing his classic The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell was much struck by the sophisticated way in which all classes in that war used the English language:

Looking back on a bad day spent worrying over a forthcoming night attack, Captain Oliver Lyttelton, educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, says: “Well, that day dawdled away. Ovid and his mistress would not have addressed the gods that day: O lente , lente currtte noctis equi.

Remembering going up the line in a crowded third-class railway car, Private Stephen Graham, hardly educated at all, says:

Huddled up in a dark corner of the carriage a-thinking of many such occasions in life when I have parted for the unknown, listening to the soldiers’ tales, it recalled the mood of Clarence’s dream when he was pacing on the hatches of the ship at night with the Duke of Gloucester, talking of the Wars of the Roses [an allusion to Shakespeare's Richard III, describing a horrible nautical nightmare].

[snip]

An allusion more proper to a sailor than a soldier, we may think, but still very pointed and effective , and certainly astonishing in view of the circumstances and the insecure idiom of the first half of Private Graham’s sentence. Indeed , not the least interesting thing about his statement is the impression it gives of having been written by two different people: a virtual illiterate, who conducts the proceedings down to recalled; and a man of letters, who, because Shakespeare is now the focus, takes over at that point with impressive accuracy and economy.

Equally striking is General Sir Ian Hamilton’s literary behavior at Gallipoli. He has been expecting four crucial French divisions to arrive in the autumn of 1915. Told that they will be postponed a month, he is shattered. The terrible word postponed keeps sounding in his ear, and he thinks of Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” and of

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell.

Aware that this postponement will very likely mean the death of the Gallipoli expedition, he turns to his diary and writes: “Postponed! the word is like a knell.” It is a gesture which, together with Captain Lyttelton’s and Private Graham’s, suggests the unparalleled literariness of all ranks who fought the Great War.

[snip]

By 1914, it was possible for soldiers to be not merely literate but vigorously literary , for the Great War occurred at a special historical moment when two “liberal” forces were powerfully coinciding in England. On the one hand, the belief in the educative powers of classical and English literature was still extremely strong. On the other , the appeal of popular education and “self-improvement” was at its peak, and such education was still conceived largely in humanistic terms.

[snip]

There were few of any rank who had not been assured that the greatest of modern literatures was the English and who did not feel an appropriate pleasure in that assurance. (Fussell, Paul, The Great War and Modern Memory (pp. 155-157). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.)

Fussell readily acknowledged that America has never had such a self-conscious regard for the English language, but it used, at least, to have a reverence for English well taught and beautifully used. Now, it’s self-styled elite rave about precocious playwrights writing about Southern teens bonding over fetal bludgeoning.

The Bookworm Beat — 9/13/14 Illustrated Edition (and Open Thread)

Being a domestic goddess is exhausting. After a day spent shopping, cleaning, driving, folding, and cooking, I sat down to watch the surprisingly delightful On Approval. It’s a short movie (only 90 minutes), so I thought that, after it was done, I’d fold some laundry and write some blog posts. I actually have a lot of ideas in my head. Unfortunately, my dog crawled into my arms, tucked his little head in my neck, and started to snore. What else could I do? I started to snore too!

I’m now drying the last load of laundry before I go to bed for real (otherwise it mildews by morning). I have an early day and a long drive tomorrow (Fall soccer season is wearing on parents), but really do have high hopes that I can write upon my return, around 1 p.m. PST. Until then, I have a really delightful batch of images. Most are from Caped Crusader, but a few originated with my Facebook friends. I hope you enjoy them:

Science and faith

100 years of income tax

The minimum wage strategy

No boots on the ground in Iraq

Mass shootings and Democrats

Liberals and college costs

Corruption at the IRS

The silent Muslim majority

The 28 percent who are happy

Why people are angry with the government

ISIS learns from Obama that it's not Islamic

America's first amendment area

Obama's CYA with Congress re war

The real deniers

How to unload a pro sports team

9-11 means mall cops

When guns are outlawed only outlaws have guns

That's us in ten years.

These men should never meet

Can't get out of bed

Obama Twilight Zone

Saturday Open Thread

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556

I’ve been a domestic goddess today, driving kids to sports activities, doing laundry, cleaning the house, washing the dog, etc. I’m pleased with my accomplishments, but I have to admit that I would rather have blogged. Blogging, however, will have to wait until this afternoon, when the soccer game is over. Until then, please bring meaning to the space below:

 

 

 

 

Thank you.

A few comments about the President’s speech regarding the Islamic State

The media ditches the halo illusion for Obama and goes for the horns

The media ditches the halo illusion for Obama and goes for the horns

Before I even get to Obama’s speech, a word about nomenclature. Most Americans refer to an organization called “ISIS” (“Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”). Obama refers to an organization called “ISIL” (“Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”). The latter encompasses more territory, so Obama is actually being more accurate about the group’s geographic aspirations. I, however, will in future refer to the group as the “Islamic State” which, as Obama himself acknowledges, is the group’s own preferred label.  To the extent Obama made a weak declaration of half-hearted war, it seems to me that it’s much easier to wage war against a self-declared state than against a disparate bunch individuals diffused throughout myriad civilian population.

And now to the speech, which I’ll simply annotate:

My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.

[As I said above, to the extent the Islamic State describes itself as a nation in control of defined territories, let's do the same. It makes for a better target.]

As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

[I understand Obama's need to preface his speech with puffery and boasting. He's got to establish his bona fides. However, I don't see the American people finding any of this reassuring. They've never perceived either Somalia or Yemen as direct threats to America, and they understand that knocking out a person or two in those places over the course of a few years has been ineffective in stemming the continued growth of Islamic terrorism. After all, if Obama's pinprick tactics worked, Islamic radicalism wouldn't be resurgent all over the world. Indeed, one could say that, rather than wiping out Islamic radicalism, Obama's tactics merely maddened it, in much the same way that a picador's non-deadly spear-work serves to madden a bull for the fight.]

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. And that’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the “Islamic State.”

[All true truisms.]

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

[Wow! Where in the Constitution did Obama get the power to define what does and does not constitute a religion, or to tell a faith's most fervent practitioners that they're doing it wrong? You all have commented here, as have others around the blogosphere, that these so-called "radicals" are actually practicing Islam as written, as Mohamed practiced it, and as self-identified Muslims practiced it for hundreds of years. The religion is all about "the killing of innocents":

The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.

Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Quran are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text. They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Quran.

Go to this link to find all the instructions to violence against the innocent -- instructions that Imam Obama claims do not exist.

Muslims took a hiatus from practicing Islam as written only when they were finally stopped at the Gates of Vienna by a Europe grown increasingly wealthy, stable, and Enlightened. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as the West has destroyed its own wealth, damaged it's stability, traded gold for Arab oil, and retreated from a world-view that acknowledged both the exceptionalism of Judeo-Christian culture and the benefits of Americanism, that hiatus has ended.

What Obama should have done was to have simply identified the Islamic State as a self-declared enemy of America, of Christians, of Israel, and of peace and stability in the world -- all of which are true statements -- and gone on from there. He weakened everything else he said by trying to be President Imam offering an exposition about the nature of true Islam.]

In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. And in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists — Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.

[Correct. I would have preferred, though, a little more outrage about the fact that two Americans were slaughtered in the most brutal way possible to send a message to our country. When Obama included Foley and Sotloff in his speech, he didn't make it sound like the culmination to a series of outrages. The way he slipped them in there, they sound like an "oh, and don't let me forget" afterthought.]

So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our Intelligence Community believes that thousands of foreigners -– including Europeans and some Americans –- have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

[Correct and it needed to be said, so I'm glad Obama said it. Now let's see what Obama plans to do about it.]

I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we’ve conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have also helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

[Once again, Obama's not going to war. Once again, he's just a picador. So far, what he's done has been neat, clinical, and somewhat helpful, but it's long-term efficacy is dubious. Also, does the last sentence -- about lives saved -- remind you of anything? It reminds me of the administration's utterly unprovable claim that the stimulus "saved or created" thousands of jobs. In fact, we've lost jobs and lost workers on Obama's watch, the stimulus notwithstanding.  More of this picador stuff, and those lives "saved" may be lost in the long-term regardless.]

But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. And that’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.

[Mr. President, are you listening to yourself?  First you destabilize Iraq and then you insist on a stable Iraq before you'll extend any help to fight a enemy that (a) your administration says is like nothing we've seen before and (b) that poses an imminent threat to our own well-being thanks in significant part to your decision to destroy the American border. Yeah, that's going to go well.]

Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.

[Why did he have to say "degrade" first? Doesn't someone issuing a battle cry just say "destroy"? Why do I think this war will end with a few high profile bombings, an announcement that the degradation is complete, and yet another wave bye-bye to Iraq?]

First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.

[I have a notoriously bad memory, but doesn't this sound precisely like "Shock and Awe"? That ended with the troops hanging a "Mission Accomplished" banner on a ship for George Bush's visit, creating an image that haunts him to this day. What ultimately subdued the enemy in Iraq was old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground fighting. It seems to me that we're just going down a path we know in advance will fail. (Which may explain why the military offered different advice which Obama, the politician, ignored.]

Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American servicemembers to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. Now that those teams have completed their work –- and Iraq has formed a government –- we will send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission –- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.

[See above comment, including the link to Obama ignoring the military's advice.]

Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.

[As others have commented, this is the same Syrian opposition that Obama's ignored for three years. Not to mention the fact that it's entirely possible that Obama was using Libya to arm the opposition to the opposition -- and the ones he may have armed went on to form the Islamic State. It's all very confusing, and I'm not sure Obama is the chess master he thinks he is, one who's capable of handling this game. Having said this, when it comes to Syria, I'm not sure there's much else Obama can do.]

Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East. And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.

[All good . . . except for that bit about the UN. If Obama thinks the UN will help, maybe there's still time for me to sell him a nice bridge too.]

Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.

[I like the sentiment, but I doubt Obama will have any success preserving these Christian and religious minority lives and homelands unless Obama has a nice big stick he's carrying to back up his promises. So far, I see him pursuing a strategy that failed once before, making demands upon a country he abandoned once before, insisting on aid from Muslim states that have concluded he's a weak horse, and looking to the weakest reed of all for help -- the UN.]

So this is our strategy. And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity. And in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria, to drive these terrorists from their lands. This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom, and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.

[Wouldn't you feel better if Obama could name a single partner in this broad coalition? Turkey's already said no, as has our once-upon-a-time partner, England. As for the Muslim states, they like strong horses and leaders they can trust. Obama fails on both counts. Why in the world should they help him, then, against a fellow Muslim force, no matter how malignant it might be? The above paragraph sounds like a wish-list, not a plan.]

My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL, but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.

[He has bipartisan support? Really?  Again, this is a wish-list, not plan. It's clear that Americans, including American politicians, are concerned about the Islamic State, but it's unclear to me that there's strong support for any single approach. Conservatives, having learned the Iraq lesson, know that pinpoint strikes won't work. Libertarians are divided between isolationism and Rand Paul's sudden hawkishness. Democrats have a peace party going on, as usual (I saw some of them already protesting at the old-age home in Mill Valley). The only thing that Congress seems to agree about is the fact that, if this is war, Congress should have a say in it, rather than Obama going it alone, again.]

Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved –- especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.

[See all my points above. This is Obama's delicate way of saying "shock and awe" combined with a little of this and a little of this . . . none of which will inspire any shock and awe in a crazed religio-military force that likes to drink its victims' blood for breakfast.]

My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks six years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. Yet despite these shocks, through the pain we have felt and the grueling work required to bounce back, America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.

[Blah, blah.]

Our technology companies and universities are unmatched. Our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day –- and that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.

[Blah, blah, blah.]

Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America –- our scientists, our doctors, our know-how –- that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, and tolerance, and a more hopeful future.

[The first sentence was true in January 2009. It is no longer true. No one trusts Obama. Everything else is blah, blah.]

America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.

[Wow! That sounds like American exceptionalism talk. Except we know that Obama doesn't think America's any more exceptional than any other nation. Let's say I'm not buying this new, full-throated patriotism. Combined with his defense of Islam, his plan to repeat George Bush's mistake, and his failure/inability to name any coalition partners, let's say that I'm not convinced he's really feeling it.]

Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform –- pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and servicemembers who support our partners on the ground.

[Is it just me, or does he sound as awkward as a rapper trying to make a formal speech to the DAR?  The rest is blah, blah.]

When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said: “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”

That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety, our own security, depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for –- timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.

May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

When it comes to free speech, Britain has embraced Big Brother

Frankly, whether Scotland goes or Scotland stays, once-Great Britain is dead. It’s death was a slow-mo, stupidity-driven suicide:

Orwell understood:

Orwell on an unfree society's hatred for the truth

Watcher’s Council nominations for September 11, 2014

Watcher's Council logo‘Tis time again for the Watcher’s Council members to vote again for the best articles (both Council and non-Council) for the past week.  It’s been a busy week, so the offerings are top-notch.  In addition, be sure to check out the designated Weasel of the Week, someone who exemplifies the worst of the world’s Leftist approach to politics, war, and society.

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Col. West, you’re correct that, rather than wallowing in 9/11 memories, we must fight radical Islam — but how should we do it? *UPDATED*

The Twin Towers in flamesAs in past years, people who were older than about ten on September 11, 2001, have honored its anniversary.  These social media acknowledgements of that fateful day tend to take two forms:  (1) the “where were you then” form, as exemplified by George Takei, or as I think of it “the fly trapped in amber” approach ; and (2) the “9/11 still matters” viewpoint, as exemplified by Lt. Col. Allen West.  I incline to Col. West’s approach, but it leaves important questions unanswered, which I’ll try to explain here.

George Takei has more that 7.5 million Facebook followers, thanks to the frequently amusing things he posts there. His popularity means it’s possible to discern certain cultural trends from his posts and from the response to those posts.  Take, for example, his 9/11 post.  To his credit, Takei didn’t forget that today is a special day.  Instead, he acknowledged it and asked his followers to reminisce about their 9/11 experiences:

Last I looked, more than 20,000 people approved of this post, almost 4,000 shared it, and around 4,000 added their comments.

There’s nothing wrong with what Takei and his followers are doing. After all, more than fifty years after the fact, we still have people spending Thanksgiving explaining exactly what they were doing in 1963 when they learned Kennedy had been assassinated. It’s our way of assuring ourselves and others that we too are part of a cataclysmic, unifying, paradigm-shifting event, even if we lacked the geographic proximity to say truthfully “I was there.”

What’s missing from this “where were you then” approach to 9/11 is that it avoids taking a serious look at 9/11′s impact, not just on our personal emotional status, but on our nation and the world at large. “I was there, if only in spirit,” is a far cry from dealing with the practical reality that “Islamism is still here, in spirit and in fact.”  It’s dangerous to lock 9/11 into the past, only to drag it out annually to admire it, much as one looks at a fly’s tortured body locked in ancient amber.

911 caught in amber

Lt. Col. Allen West represents the opposite end of the “Remembering 9/11″ spectrum. The events of 9/11 may have happened thirteen years ago, he says, but they matter today. He is correct.  They matter very much.  In his 9/11 post, Col. West, after briefly describing his own 9/11 memories, turns the focus where it rightly belongs:

And here we are 13 years later and still living under the threat of an Islamic terrorist attack. We go through security protocols all because of Islamic terrorist attacks. We just witnessed two Americans beheaded by members of an Islamic terrorist army.

Thirteen years later and it is as though we learned no lessons from 9/11. Our own recalcitrance to define this enemy was demonstrated last night by our president, Barack Hussein Obama, who firmly declared that ISIS is not “Islamic” — then what the hell are they, Amish? Political correctness has placed us in a position where almost half of our country fears another major terrorist attack.

(Please remind me to pull out that “What the hell are they? Amish?” line next time I cross paths with an Islamic apologist.)

Allen West and the Marine Corps

In addition to reminding us that 9/11 continues to have real-world repercussions, West proposes that the military provides an affirmative solution to radical Islam’s continuing aggression:

My fellow Americans, we don’t have to live under this specter of Islamo-fascism and jihadism. We cannot go another year — certainly not another 13 — living in fear all the while refusing to admit that they exist. I am tired of being told that we cannot offend folks. I am tired of hearing that it’s not all Muslims. If that’s so, those moderates need to “man up” and kick some extremist arse. Because for 13 years, we’ve fiddled around and played games of winning hearts and minds and nation building and all we got in exchange were two beheaded Americans.

The original “day that will live in infamy” led us to one goal: the destruction of the enemy who attacked us. It was Japanese Admiral Yamamoto who stated that he feared they had awakened a sleeping giant. But the giant that is America is still asleep.

When President Ronald Reagan was asked how he defined victory in the Cold War he replied simply, “we win they lose.” And it was Alexander the Great who said, “I would not fear an army of lions if led by sheep, but I would fear an army of sheep if led by a lion.” America is looking for a lion who will crush the wolves and embolden, unleash and direct the indomitable American spirit that will not cower.

I agree with Col. West that radical Islam needs to be stomped out, or at least sent to the far outskirts of civilization where this nihilistic ideology can wither and die on the vine. What I’d like Col. West to do, though, is to explain precisely how one goes about doing this.

The “how” of destroying radical Islam has been on my mind of late.  Just today, when I explained to a young man of my acquaintance that radical Islam cannot be accommodated but must be destroyed, he asked the obvious question: “Well, what would you do?”

I had no answer. ISIS is actually the easiest problem to solve, because it has set itself up as an Islamic state. After all, if it’s a state, we can declare war against it and wipe it out.  The problem is that, outside of ISIS’s helpful decision to attach a large target to its collective backside, we’re more hampered when it comes to the constantly increased number of other manifestations of radical Islam.

Looking outside Iraq, radical Islam isn’t a coherent, bomb-able, nation with borders.  Instead, it’s a toxic ideology that permeates larger societies, both Muslim and non-Muslim.  And even within Muslim nations or communities, it’s actively embraced only by about 10% of Muslims — although the majority provide strong passive support (putting the lie to Obama’s assurance that there’s nothing sharia-like about “real” Islam).

With regard to those passive sharia supporter, Col. West is correct that it’s time for the “so-called” moderates to put up or shut up, but that still leaves us with a problem: Where do we aim our guns?

Do we resume a hot war Afghanistan, just as we’re on the verge of treating, leaving a triumphant Taliban?  Do we drop bombs on remote islands in the Philippines, where a bloody Muslim insurgency has gone on for years? Or how about taking the Marines to India, home of the Mumbai massacre?  Or maybe we aim our guns on in Qatar, an oil-rich nation that generously funds Hamas (and is home to a CENTCOM presence).

And so it goes, with country after country hosting a large radical Islamist contingent that too often is an untouchable Fifth Column.  Need more examples?  There’s Turkey, which is a NATo member, and which is slowly being dragged from the 21st century back to the 7th, with 68% of Turkish citizens supporting Hamas.  England was our ally in Iraq, but London is Ground Zero for radical Islam. France, where 16% of the population supports Hamas, is witnessing a mass Jewish Exodus that continued unabated throughout the summer, despite Israel’s wartime footing.  Wartime Israel was safer to French Jews than peacetime France.  And there’s always Malmo, in Sweden, where 40% of the population is Muslim. Thanks to this influx, Sweden has become the rape capital of Europe.

Radical Islam in the Middle East also leaves us without targets.  We can’t attack Saudi Arabia, which has for decades funded the Sunni side of toxic Islam, because it’s long been our ally and, absent domestic drilling, is a necessary oil purveyor. Moreover, the Saudis are now afraid of the Frankenstein’s monster they created, and are making nice with Israel, our ally in the war against jihad Islam.  We’re also unwilling to take on Iran, which has for decades funded the Shia side of toxic Islam.  Worse, it seems that Obama would like to partner with Iran to help get rid of Sunni ISIS.  And then of course there’s Gaza.  We weren’t pleased when the Israelis delicately bombed it, so it’s unlikely that we’ll start bombing it ourselves any time soon.

And really, if we’re going to have to bomb whole communities of radical Islamists, we’re going to have to look within our own borders.  We’ll need to add the states of Minnesota and Michigan to the list of targets, not to mention towns such as Fremont, California, and large parts of California’s Central Valley.  Heck, if an FBI friend of mine is correct, it might be time to drop a bomb on Marin too, since that idyllic Leftist paradise has a burgeoning radical Islamic population.  (Remember John Walker Lindh?  His Marin connections weren’t a coincidence.)

Making more sense before

Given the parasitism of radical Islam throughout the world, what precisely is the military solution to this ideology that has permeated the world’s fabric? Obama’s approach for the past five-and-a-half years has been a dismal failure.  Moreover, if his speech last night (a fairly impotent combination of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision) is anything to go by, his future approach to jihad seems to be headed to the same graveyard as his past course of action.

So, Col. West, if you’re reading this post, please expand on how you would deal, not just with ISIS, but with radical Islam’s pernicious spread throughout the world. With America on a wartime footing, this may well be your time to aim for the land’s highest office. Much as I like you, I wasn’t sure about your chances as a peacetime president because Americans might be leery of again electing a man with limited Congressional experience.  As a war-time president, , though. . . .  Well, if you have a workable course of action against Islam, that plan, put together with your conservativism, leadership skills, fearlessness, and bone-deep patriotism, means you’d have my support and my vote in a heartbeat.

allen-west-20101

UPDATE: JoshuaPundit believes that Iran is the pivot on which radical Islam turns. Deal with Iran, and the other dominoes will fall in a way favorable to Western interests.